Dolemite Is My Name (Craig Brewer, 2019) wr. Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski; Eddie Murphy, Keegan-Michael Key, Wesley Snipes, Chris Rock, Craig Robinson, Mike Epps, T.I.; release 4 October, streaming 25 October
Eddie Murphy portrays real-life legend Rudy Ray Moore, a comedy and rap pioneer who proved naysayers wrong when his hilarious, obscene, kung-fu fighting alter ego, Dolemite, became a 1970s Blaxploitation phenomenon.
In 1994, we saw Tim Burton's direction of actor Johnny Depp in a compassionate portrayal of a very ordinary film-maker, Ed Wood, in the film with that title. Now we have Eddie Murphy's sympathetic portrayal of another mediocre film-maker, Rudy Ray Moore, who in 1975 made a less than mediocre film called Dolemite. Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space used to be widely seen as the 'worst film ever made' - or at least one of them. Dolemite is probably in the same category.
But the film about Moore is a very good film. Murphy does a wonderful job of slightly restraining his usual brilliant self in the service of inhabiting the character of a less than brilliant man (who was apparently, however, important in his own way). The film is lots of fun, full of all kinds of excess. The music, the atmosphere, the enthusiasm of all concerned makes for an experience which is a blast.
Kambole Campbell, in Sight&Sound: "Murphy is surprisingly restrained and steady in the role of Rudy Ray, resisting playing up his eccentricities and insecurities for easy laughs. It’s a more humble performance than expected, both from this performer and given the braggadocio of the film’s title. It’s satisfying that Dolemite Is My Name takes great pride in its subject matter, never demeaning Moore’s seemingly misplaced ambition and hopeless schemes, which it takes a lot of joy in recreating. Overall, this is a fun, and fitting, return for a comedian and actor whose time was considered up, even it indulges in the occasional moment of nostalgia and sickly sweet sentimentality."
Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 24 February, 2020 | Now: 21 March, 2020